Graduate stories: Hannah Altendorff – Mental Health Social Worker with Think Ahead

Transform Society is a network of social change programmes (Teach First, Police Now, Unlocked, Think Ahead, NGDP and Frontline) that together, are working to develop the public service leaders of the future. By partnering with  Transform Society, the University of Bristol is showing a commitment to helping increase the number and diversity of high-calibre graduates taking up roles on community impact programmes.

Hannah Altendorff studied Sociology and Social Policy at Bristol, graduating in 2008, and then went on to do a master’s degree in Human Rights at the University of Sussex. She is now a Mental Health Social worker with Think Ahead.

We caught up with Hannah to hear about what she has been up to…

 1. What have you done since graduating?

My first job out of uni was working for a Lib Dem MP for 3.5 years. I then spent 5 years working in the charity sector before deciding to retrain as a Mental Health Social Worker with Think Ahead.  

  1. What do you do in your current role?

I work in a mental health team that supports people with enduring psychosis, so conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder. The majority of the people I work with have been hospitalised under the Mental Health Act, and my job is to work collaboratively with them to come up with a plan for their long-term recovery. The job role is really varied, including supporting people in finding work, tackling isolation by getting them engaged in activities, securing appropriate housing, or working on whatever personal goal they may have. A large part of the role also centres around safeguarding people from abuse and protecting their right to be involved in decision-making through the appropriate use of the Mental Capacity Act. What I love about the job is that it draws upon so many disciplines: from law and policy to psychology and sociology; you’re always being challenged.  

  1. How has your Bristol degree helped you?

I can confidently say that this role draws directly from all of these disciplines on a daily basis. Recognising the role of power and control in society (particularly when it comes to mental health), being up to date with Government policy and having an appreciation for what might be motivating such policies, as well as being able to advocate for people’s rights; all fundamental parts of being an effective social work practitioner.   

  1. Do you have any hints and tips for current students?

Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do straight away. All of the jobs I have done prior to becoming a social worker have prepared me in a different way, and I don’t think I’d be as effective in the role if I hadn’t had those experiences beforehand.  

To find out more about Think Ahead and how you can apply, go to their website and be sure to keep an eye out for their events in the Autumn term.